For some of us, the idea of a backlog is a foundation of our gaming experience. For others, it can be an overwhelming source of anxiety and might impede progress in playing games you genuinely want to play. If you can’t already tell, I categorize myself in the latter.
2019 was a hectic year for me. It might be the first year (among many I’m sure) in my life where I consciously had to put some of my favorite hobbies, including gaming, on serious hold. Failure to do so would have had some intense adverse effects on my life, and lucky for me, I had the clarity to see the future impact that would have had. Even only spending ~5-10 hours per week gaming, sometimes I struggle to keep on top of other (more important) tasks as a result.
2019 was also the year that I decided to tackle my backlog. Instead of spending time trying to keep up with the ferocious pace of the internet regarding the consumption of content, I made a point to play the games I already owned at my speed. Even if this meant missing out on the conversations, if it meant not having the shared experiences, it was something that I needed at this point in my life.
Yeah, it turns out I didn’t do so hot. Tackling my backlog was a lot harder than I thought for two reasons. The first being that I found myself not having as much time as I needed to commit to clearing the backlog out. It’s not to say that I didn’t strive to cross some of these games off of the list; in fact, I played most of them a great deal. Katamari, Doom, Astrobot, Kingdom Hearts, and Trails of Cold Steel all saw a lot of my time in 2019; moreover, Trails of Cold Steel clocked in as my second most played game in 2019 according to PlayStation’s annual Wrap-Up.
It’s a shame that the second reason took quite literally all year to resonate with me. I’d “boxed” myself into this categorization of gamer, and I needed to break free. I’ve been putting a great deal of thought into “why we like what we like,” and even considered writing about it; however, I don’t know if I have the cognitive or psychological chops to wrestle with the concept. Still, nonetheless, I’ve realized that refocusing my “interests” has helped me a great deal in finding new things that I like. I love a good JRPG just as much as the next person, but it’s also become abundantly clear to me that I burnt myself out. Checking off two of the lengthiest JRPGs in the modern era was a massive undertaking that cut deeply into almost every aspect of my life. My gym schedule was disheveled, eating habits went from relatively healthy to grabbing the most convenient option, and my living environment became an absolute pigstye. Looking back on it, I’m proud of what I accomplished, but I’m still trying to weigh the cost/benefit analysis here. “Just take it slowly,” you might say, and to that, I agree, but it’s easier said than done. It could be a personality trait, but once I begin to immerse myself in something, I can’t just stick a toe in the pool, I have to dive in headfirst.
So what did December teach me? One cursory glance at this website might reveal just that. I tore down the genre-defining walls that I’d built up around myself, and enjoyed games that I was either uncertain about before or straight up avoided due to the genre they resided within. The Spyro Trilogy was a fantastic source of enjoyment for me over the holidays, and even though I haven’t written about it (yet), Wattam was an absolute gem that I treasure and believe to be one of the best gaming experiences of 2019. But more than freeing myself from any genre, I released the backlog and moved on with my gaming life. I purposed myself to step forward on the path, instead of trying to walk backward.
Maybe someone else needs to see this, and I know that it’s not always easy to take someone else’s experience and apply it to yourself, but try to give an honest consideration to the following challenges:
• If you’ve become stagnant in a hobby that was once your passion, try reevaluating your goals.
• Why do you enjoy what you enjoy?
• What do you see yourself getting out of this game/show/etc.?
• Most importantly: Do you love what you are doing/playing?
I feel that if you spend time looking inward and being honest, you might find that it’s time for a change. Or you might find that you are happy exactly where you are. We are all in a different place on the path of Life. Taking time to evaluate where you are and what best suits your needs is important. Don’t feel guilty about leaving some things behind, falling into time or cost sunk fallacies just compound the issue tenfold over any duration of time. Overall happiness and genuine enjoyment is the goal here, and maybe you’ll even reinvent yourself along the way.